There are growing calls for the federal government to review the Indigenous trainee programs run by big corporate companies after new details emerged of agreements between Indigenous trainees and Inpex.
By
Malarndirri McCarthy

Source:
NITV News
21 Feb 2014 - 8:44 PM  UPDATED 21 Feb 2014 - 8:44 PM

One of Australia's multi-billion dollar oil and gas projects has yet to deliver on a promised "benefits package" made with an Aboriginal organisation five years ago.

The Inpex Ichyths project has been in the spotlight this week over over allegations Indigenous trainees on its worksite have not been properly trained.

Today, the Larrakia Development Corporation told NITV News that an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) it signed with Inpex in 2009, also included employment and training objectives for Indigenous people.

The $34 billion Inpex project in Darwin employs 260 Indigenous workers, including 38 trainees.

In 2009, the Inpex Ichythys project signed an MOU with the local custodians represented by the Larrakia Development Corporation.

The MOU agreed to "build a long-term relationship based on openness, honesty and respect and mutual opportunity that delivers commercial integrity and economic benefit for both parties".

But today the MOU sits as a dusty document without meaning.

"The benefits package has not been delivered," said Larrakia Development Corporation (LDC) CEO Nigel Browne.

"We are currently not at the table in relation to those negotiations although the discussions relating to the benefits package had been an LDC-driven initiative for a number of years, that's currently not the case."

In a statement, Inpex said it would not be revealing details of its confidential agreement, but added it is continuing to work with LDC.

"The benefits package component of the MoU is of a commercial nature and confidential and that Inpex continues to work with the Larrakia Development Corporation in performing its commitments under the MOU," the statement read.

The Larrakia Development Corporation has had its own internal and financial issues in recent years, but under the new leadership of Larrakia man Nigel Browne, things are on the up.

He says that if there had been a better relationship between INPEX and the LDC none of the issues around inadequate training for Indigenous people on the Inpex project would have happened.

"At the moment it can only be described as a paternalistic approach," Mr Browne said.

"We are not at the table negotiating the benefits package as the Larrakia families' commercial representative in this instance. We do not have a say in relation to what structure is being put in place and we are not involved in the ongoing process of formalising the benefits package."

Earlier this week, the Larrakia Trade Training Centre told NITV News it had trained about 80 people for the Inpex project before it realised the training was inadequate.

Aboriginal INPEX trainees unpaid and untrained: Union